People who use the social networking site Facebook can develop symptoms of depression if they experience feelings of envy while browsing, according to a study from the University of Missouri.
Depression symptoms only developed in people who felt envy while using the site. People who used the site to stay connected with friends and family showed no negative effects.
In the study, the researchers surveyed young Facebook users. Those who engaged in so-called “surveillance use” of the site also tended to show symptoms of depression. The researchers defined surveillance use as using the site to compare their own life to their friends’ lives, such as checking on how well acquaintances are doing financially or seeing how happy an old friend is in a new relationship.
However, people who used Facebook as a tool for keeping in touch with family and friends were much less likely to report symptoms of depression. In fact, the researchers found that people who used Facebook to stay in touch showed improvements in well-being.
“Users should be self-aware that positive self-presentation is an important motivation in using social media, so it is to be expected that many users would only post positive things about themselves,” said researcher Edson Tandoc, PhD, of the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. “This self-awareness, hopefully, can lessen feelings of envy.”
In a new study, researchers at the University of Missouri have found that Facebook use can lead to symptoms of depression if the social networking site triggers feelings of envy among its users.
Margaret Duffy, PhD, a professor and chair of strategic communication at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, said how Facebook users use the site makes a difference in how they respond to it.
“Facebook can be a fun and healthy activity if users take advantage of the site to stay connected with family and old friends and to share interesting and important aspects of their lives,” Duffy said.